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March 1, 2011

National and International Speakers Examine Fashion Accessories During “Costume Accessories: Head to Toe” Conference

From hats on the head to shoes on the feet, clothing accessories were as important in the past as they are today. In between the head and the toes, people wore kerchiefs, shawls, gloves, ruffles, aprons, purses, wallets and jewelry as part of their ensembles. Accessories also can be used to explore history. Scholars from the United States, Canada and England present lectures providing invaluable details in the story of dress and adornment during the conference, “Costume Accessories: Head to Toe,” March 13-16 at Colonial Williamsburg’s DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum in the Hennage Auditorium.

On Sunday, March 13, Susan North, curator of fashions, 1550-1800, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, delivers the keynote address, “Not Just Another Pretty Hat! Studying and Curating Dress Accessories.”

Additional presenters include:

  • Phil Dunning, material culture researcher, Parks Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, “Yeoman and Merchant: Clothing and Accessories from a 1690 New England Shipwreck.”
  • Ann Bissonnette, assistant professor in materials culture and curatorship, and curator, clothing and textiles collection, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, “Off With Their Wigs! Traditions and Revolutions in Hairstyles, 1748-1804.” This program is underwritten by the Costume Society of America’s Midwestern Region.
  • Susan North, curator of fashions, 1550-1800, Victoria and Albert Museum, “An Accessory to Health: Clean Linen and Its Role in Dress, Disease and Gentility.”
  • Cynthia Cooper, head, collections and research, and curator, costume and textiles, McCord Museum of Canadian History, Montreal, Quebec, “Shawls, Sashes, and Scarves.”

    Colonial Williamsburg staff delivering presentations during the conference includes:

  • Linda R. Baumgarten, curator, textiles and costume, Colonial Williamsburg, “From Head to Toe: The Colonial Williamsburg Collection.”
  • Mark Hutter, journeyman tailor, and Erik Goldstein, curator, mechanical arts and numismatics, “Dressed to the Hilt: The Production and Consumption of Men’s Accessories in the 18th Century.”
  • D.A. Saguto, master boot and shoemaker, “From Medieval to Machine Age – A Revolution in Shoemaking.”
  • Robin Kipps, supervisor, Pasteur and Galt Apothecary, “A Prescription for Health and Fashion.”
  • Janea Whitacre, mistress of the millinery and mantua-making trades, “‘Of All Things Millinerial’: People, Product and Public Perception.”
  • Elizabeth Myers, journeyman wigmaker, and the Colonial Williamsburg Wig Shop staff, “Celebrating the Mysteries of 18th-century Hair and Beauty Secrets.”

    In addition, several optional programs will be offered.

    This conference complements the “Fashion Accessories from Head to Toe” exhibition at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. The exhibit features Williamsburg’s collection of men’s and women’s fashion accessories from about 1650-1850. This exhibition is funded by a grant from Mary Turner Gilliland and Clinton R. Gilliland of Menlo Park, Calif., through the Turner-Gilliland Family Fund of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Mountain View, Calif.

    Colonial Williamsburg and the Costume Society of America are co-sponsoring this conference.

    A Reconstructed Visitable Past: Re-created Period Attire at Heritage Sites

    In conjunction with the accessories symposium and in recognition of the 75th anniversary of costumed interpretation, Colonial Williamsburg hosts a conference on the use of costume and reproduction dress at historic sites on Thursday and Friday, March 17-18 at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Art Museum’s Hennage Auditorium.

    Jim Horn, Colonial Williamsburg’s vice president, research and historical interpretation, and Brenda Rosseau, manager of Colonial Williamsburg’s Costume Design Center, welcome participants. National and international speakers discuss costuming at historic sites. Richard Pickering, deputy executive director of Plimoth Plantation, Plymouth, Mass., gives the keynote address, “Shifting Seams: Tailor Made History for the Next Generation,” at 4:15 p.m. on March 17.

    Local experts who will speak include:

  • Christopher Dailey, historical clothing services supervisor, Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, Williamsburg, Va., “‘Counterfeited According to Truth’: The Challenges of Accurately Clothing Powhatan Indians at Jamestown Settlement.”
  • Sally Queen, manager of the Colonial Williamsburg Costume Design Center from 1987-1995, and Linda Smith, cutter-draper-pattern maker, Colonial Williamsburg Costume Design Center, “The Mythical Bodice and Its Successor at Colonial Williamsburg.”
  • Neal Hurst, apprentice tailor, Colonial Williamsburg’s historic trades, Williamsburg, Va., “The Bridge Between Craftsmen and Academia.”
  • Frances M. Burroughs, producer, Electronic Field Trips, and director of operations, education programs in productions, publications and learning ventures, “Extending the Message: Historical Costume Exhibitions and Media.”

    Register for the conference by visiting us online at or by calling 1-800-603-0948, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.

    Special hotel rates are available for accessories conference registrants. For room reservations, call 1-800-261-9530, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.

    The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational and cultural organization dedicated to the preservation, interpretation and presentation of the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia. This town-sized living history museum tells the inspirational stories of our journey to become Americans through programs in the Historic Area and through the award-winning Revolutionary City program. Explore The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg and discover the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum featuring the best in British and American decorative arts from 1670 – 1830 and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum home to the nation’s premier collection of American folk art, comprising more than 5,000 folk art objects made during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Colonial Williamsburg Hotels feature conference spaces and recreation activities from spa and fine dining to world-class golf. Colonial Williamsburg is committed to expanding its thought-provoking programming through education outreach on-site and online. Purchase of Colonial Williamsburg products and services supports the preservation, research and educational programs of the Foundation. Philanthropic support by individuals, corporations, and foundations benefits the educational mission of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

    Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s website at

    Media Contact:
    Penna Rogers
    (757) 220-7121

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